Monday, November 6, 2023

Review: Red River Seven by A. J. Ryan


Red River Seven by A.J. Ryan
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Paperback. 304 pages.

About Red River Seven:

"Seven strangers. One mission. Infinite horror.

A man awakes on a boat at sea with no memory of who or where he is. He's not alone - there are six others, each with a unique set of skills. None of them can remember their names. All of them possess a gun.

When a message appears on the onboard computer - Proceeding to Point A - the group agrees to work together to survive whatever is coming.

But as the boat moves through the mist-shrouded waters, divisions begin to form. Who is directing them and to what purpose? Why can't they remember anything?

And what are the screams they can hear beyond the mist?

Internationally bestselling fantasy author Anthony Ryan - writing as A. J. Ryan - delivers a nerve-shredding thriller in which seven strangers must undertake a terrifying journey into the unknown."

Seven strangers wake up on a boat in the middle of the sea, enshrouded by fog, with absolutely no memory whatsoever of who they are, where they are, or why they've been seemingly dropped on boat in the middle of nowhere. We, as readers, know exactly as much as each one of these characters, and we learn more information as they learn it. Because Red River Seven is a book best experienced knowing as much as the characters do–which is to say, next to nothing– I will keep this review on the shorter side and as vague as I possibly can so as not to give away anything. I'd encourage any potential reader to go into this book as blind as possible as well. 

I was excited to see what A.J. Ryan (pseudonym of the well-known fantasy author Anthony Ryan) would do with a dystopian-like thriller premise such as this, and the result has made me curious to see if he'll continue to work within some newer genres. I loved this set up and think it made for a really exciting general story to follow. I loved slowly learning more and more about each character and the "mission" the group appeared to be on. I also found myself riveted by what ended up being the big 'reveal' of what's really going on and how the author explored the concept. At first, I was worried that it was going to end up being somewhat predictable as it seemed to be following some well-worn tropes, but Ryan managed to pull out some new ideas and concepts to make things fresh and exciting, and I was really impressed. 

The eeriness of the setting is spot on and executed with precision. I felt very on edge while reading this and not knowing what was going to be coming next. It definitely helps (or doesn't help?) that there were occasional mentions of human-sounding screams that could be heard off in the distance beyond the fog that surrounds the characters. There's a strong sense of unease that really lets the readers understand just what the characters are going through, and the slow unveiling of more and more clues about what's going on only served to enhance that feeling and experience. 

Even though the characters don't seem to know anything about themselves, I appreciated the ways in which Ryan managed to bring them each to life and still convey very unique personalities and skillsets over time. Because of the way this story is set up, however, I never felt like I fully knew any of the characters, and this did slightly impact my ability to really feel connected to their roles in the story. 

I think something was lacking ever so slightly from this, and it's hard for me to really put my finger on what exactly it was. Usually, in a book with this type of urgency I'd expect to speed through it and be constantly turning pages. With Red River Seven, I felt some sort of disconnect from the story and characters that left me not as fully invested as I'd expect to be. There was something that always seemed to keep at arm's length from really getting into the story, almost as if something about the plotting or writing felt a little rough. That being said, there were still many incredibly strong aspects of this book that worked extremely well, as mentioned above. 

Overall, I've given Red River Seven 3.75 stars! This was a thrilling quest into the unknown that, although didn't quite live up to all of my expectation, still proved to be a solid and highly entertaining story. 

*I received a copy of Red River Seven courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon |

1 comment:

  1. I didn't request this but I think I would enjoy it, even though you had a few issues. I love the idea of discovering the mystery along with the characters.